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Chris Vosters Finds Comfort In Selling Kettle Corn

chris vosters selling kettle corn

Market Snacks

Standing at her booth at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market, Chris Vosters serves hungry customers bags of homemade kettle corn.

Every Saturday during market season, one can find her popping away. The constant snapping and sweet scent of the kettle corn permeates the most northeast corner of the market.

"I was Daddy's boy, they had no other boy, so I grew up doing the farming thing," Chris says. "It's always been my background. It's my passion."

Chris always looks forward to her weekend trips to Bloomington. She relishes the social aspect of serving her customers at the market.

"I deal with them all," Chris says, "from professors up there at IU, to doctors, to lawyers, to the guy that works for Walmart or the guy that flips cheeseburgers. All of them's my customers. And especially at the market, a lot of people I don't know the name but I know the face and what they like and what they don't like. It's more of a relationship with them."

Family Tradition

She inherited the farm and business. However, the family business wasn't always kettle corn. It started with cornmeal. During a family vacation in Florida, someone gave her husband and parents a playful suggestion back in 1998.

The family met the Brunkes from Missouri at the Florida State Fair. The two families became friends, but Greg Brunke wanted to sell the Vosters a kettle corn operation. He promised to show them how to do it as long as they stayed out of a local show and out of Missouri with this operation. They agreed.

The Vosters played around with a newly built kettle corn rig. After serving some customers at a local show, they decided the operation was a fit. The family needed a way to specialize with corn in order to continue making profit.

That's how I deal with all the death, all the sadness, all the things is to keep busy, because when I'm working I'm not thinking.

"It was a dare to build a kettle amongst two friends," Chris says, "and it never intended to grow into what it is today."

Carrying On

However, there are fewer people around the family farm these days to continue the tradition.

For the most part, it's just her, with the occasional help from her son-in-law Steve. Her three kids have moved on with their lives.

Chris has experienced the losses of her father in 2002, her husband in 2010 and her mother two years ago.

"I got dealt a 3 and if I got dealt a 3 I can't play an ace or a king," Chris says. "I wish they (her parents and husband) were all here and I'm sure anybody that's lost anybody feels the same way. So… go on."

The family deaths are what motivate Chris to continue her operation.

"That's how I deal with all the death, all the sadness, all the things is to keep busy," Chris says, "because when I'm working I'm not thinking."

While on the farm, the memories of her loved ones inform everything she does.

"Live like you're dying because you are," Chris says. "You just don't realize it. Don't put off things that you want to do for tomorrow because there may not be one."

As Chris navigates through the later stages of her life, she remains dedicated to serving her customers and cooking kettle corn.

"How long am I going to cook corn? Til I can't cook corn no more," Chris says. "I could get a real job. Do I really want a real job? Probably not. So, as long as I'm physically able to do it, I'll probably cook a little corn."

This story was produced in collaboration with students from the Indiana University School of Journalism.

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